It’s almost a quarter of a century that Merseyside produced the top flight’s top scorer outright. Ian Doyle examines the importance of having an ace marksman...
EVER since arriving at Anfield almost two years ago, Luis Suarez has found himself commanding more than his fair share of column inches and headline space.
But after the misdemeanours and controversy, the Uruguayan is finally beginning to occupy a regular corner of the newspapers nobody at Liverpool will mind.
Suarez’s two clinical finishes against Wigan Athletic last weekend moved him clear at the top of the Premier League goalscoring charts with 10 goals in 12 top-flight games, earning him a landmark accolade (no, we didn’t know it existed either) for becoming the first player to reach double figures this season.
Extended to all competitions, the 25-year-old has scored 13 times this campaign, a figure it took him until April to reach last season.
That Suarez has had by far more shots at goal – both on and off target – than any other Premier League player this campaign should make such a return no surprise, allied to the fact he has almost single-handedly been carrying the forward threat for Brendan Rodgers’s side.
Goals, though, are the currency by which every striker is ultimately judged.
And to have a Liverpool player, or indeed any from Merseyside, to be at the top of the tree has become an increasingly rare sight.
The last Anfield player to sit atop the list was Michael Owen who, in 1998 and 1999, shared the award with first Dion Dublin and Chris Sutton, and then Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Dwight Yorke, while John Aldridge in 1988 was the last Liverpool man to claim sole possession of the golden boot.
You have to go back even further for when an Everton player last topped the scoring charts, Gary Lineker netting 30 league goals during his only season at Goodison in 1985-86 before leaving for Barcelona.
There have been a few players who have subsequently come close, Liverpool’s Robbie Fowler twice finishing second to Alan Shearer in 1995 and 1996 and Fernando Torres beaten by Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008.
Everton, though, have only troubled the top 10 list three times during the Premier League era – Andrei Kanchelskis in 1996, Yakubu in 2008 and Louis Saha two years later.
But that could change with the arrival of Nikica Jelavic.
The Croatian burst out of the blocks having signed from Rangers in January, scoring nine goals in 13 league appearances for the Goodison outfit.
Jelavic has found the going tougher this campaign – his fluffed volley at Reading last week would surely have been dispatched six months earlier – but a return of five goals in 11 league games has still only been bettered by eight other players.
And David Moyes has no concerns the striker will rediscover his cutting edge.
“We were playing as well as this for lots of the end of the second half of last season and Jelavic was the one who was giving us the one or two goals and sort of getting the games out of sight a little bit,” says the Everton manager.